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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 21 Apr 2009

Location: Sinop, Turkey

MapDay 21 April 21
As I write this, I’m on the bus heading to Sinop, on the Black Sea coast. It has taken 3 days of traveling to get from the Med coast in the south to the Black Sea coast in the north. The countryside is very rural with mountains all around us and obviously fertile plains in the valleys. This is a major area for growing rice and chick peas, and water is in abundance as the Black Sea influences rainfall across the northern regions of Turkey. Much of these roads are snaking their way around mountains and valleys, and the bus is being expertly driven by Yusuf. Such a sweet guy, a gentleman who can’t do enough for us. There were many times when Yusuf came to my aid when I was negotiating hectic city traffic on the bike. More often than not I would end up being “tail-end Charlie” of all the bikes, but Yusuf was always right behind me with the bus and he would block a lane behind me to allow me to change lanes unhindered by aggressive city traffic. We are lucky to have such a good driver – I don’t know how he has driven the bus down such narrow laneways and mountain roads. He is a Turkish gem.
Sitting in the passenger seat is Baris, our tour guide and interpreter. This guy never left my side during the accident aftermath. He stayed with us til 5.30 the following morning (as did Yusuf), and was always there to discuss my condition with hospital staff. Baris and Yusuf work for a tour company called Orion, and he is qualified to lead tours through Turkey’s ancient ruins – he actually studies ancient civilizations and carries reference books with him on tour. We could never repay this man for what he’s done for us.
I’m sitting directly behind Yusuf, and sitting opposite me is Shukru, our bike mechanic, who works for the company renting the bikes to us. He is always there to deal with bike problems (he has a range of spares on the bus), and at the end of every day, when the rest of us head to our hotel room after a hard day’s grind on the road, Shukru is washing the bikes, checking their oil, and lining them up for a smooth getaway in the morning. He is proud of his young family, and he loves to dance the traditional Turkish dance.
Also on the bus is Tom and Sylvia, a retired couple from Sydney, who have decided to relinquish their bike a couple of days ago for the comfort of the bus. Don’t ask Tom to rate the Yamaha cruiser motorbike!!.
Having made it to Sinop, I had to go straight to its hospital to get the dressing changed, and get my wounds inspected by a doctor, after 5 days since the accident. The Doc wasn’t happy (in fact there seemed to be many doctors offering the same advice) – they said I shouldn’t be traveling, I should be resting on my back, with my foot in the air. Some of the sutures were not healing well, and some patches of skin was dying, indicating circulation problems. The recommendation was an immediate trip to Istanbul, see a plastic surgeon and a bone doctor there, and depending what they say, either a hospital stay or fly home to Australia. Baris immediately got a flight booked to Istanbul tomorrow morning.
I’m devastated. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. All that work, planning, bike training and practice. We’ve seen ¾ of the tour, and we’ve been astounded, moved, stunned, and thoroughly spoilt to have been accepted by these people into their country. To have the tour end abruptly is heartbreaking, but our Turkey adventure might not be over yet.